Exercise is very important for people with COPD.

Always talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program. Be sure to bring along a fast-acting "reliever" medication whenever you do any physical activity or exercise.

Ways exercise helps you manage your COPD:

  • Exercise and staying active can help reduce your shortness of breath.
  • Heart and breathing muscles that are in shape require less oxygen. This helps your body use oxygen more efficiently.
  • Exercise helps you control and reduce your weight if required. Extra fat around the stomach can press on your diaphragm, making breathing more difficult.
  • Exercise builds your strength and endurance. Exercising makes it easier to do routine activities, such as shopping, cooking, and cleaning.

Exercising with COPD

COPD exercises come in 3 varieties: stretching, aerobic, and strength.

1. Stretching

Stretching relaxes your mind and body. Stretching improves your flexibility and mobility. It's also an excellent method of warming up before exercising and cooling down after a workout.

2. Aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise improves the efficiency of your heart, lungs, and blood vessels. Aerobic exercises include easy and enjoyable daily activities, such as walking, climbing stairs, swimming, and dancing. Take it easy at first!

  • You're exercising too hard if you can't speak and exercise at the same time.
  • You're at the right level if you can speak while you exercise.

3. Strength exercise

Strength exercises use resistance to make your muscles stronger.

You don't need to lift weights. Strength exercises include leg and arm extensions, leg lifts, step-ups, and even lifting groceries or doing housework.

Keep it simple

  • Set simple, achievable fitness goals. Walking for 10 minutes without becoming breathless is a realistic first goal.
  • Start slowly and work your way up to your fitness goals.
  • Watch for your COPD triggers - such as extreme weather, pollen counts, and pollution levels - before exercising outside.
  • Plan for indoor workouts, such as walking in a clean, well-ventilated mall.
  • Exercise with a friend to help stay motivated.
  • Stop exercising if you notice any signs of overexertion.

Questions to ask your doctor before starting any exercise program:

  • Which types of exercise are best suited for me?
  • Will I require supplemental oxygen?
  • Will I need medical supervision during my workouts?